Joseph Reaney

Correspondent

  • London, England, UK

Joseph Reaney is the London correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide and also covers a range of other European cities for Forbes Travel Guide. A freelance British travel journalist based across Europe (in London, Prague and Vaduz), he writes articles and guides for luxury publications including The Telegraph, Virgin Airlines and Vertu Select, and is the founder and editor-in-chief of the travel writing service WorldWORDS. Reaney also blogs about his travels at josephreaney.com.

  • On April 11, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    Where can you get the best view in London?

    There are many places to get a great look at London. Here are just some of them.

    A natural view
    If you want to stretch your legs and get some air in your lungs, head to Primrose Hill at the northern side of Regent's Park. It's the perfect place to enjoy a picnic while looking out over the center. Alternatively, for a similar (but slightly more distant) panorama, with fewer tourists, try Parliament Hill in Hamstead Heath.

    A tasty view
    If you prefer some light refreshment with your city vista, try one of these two superb options. First, the evocatively-named Restaurant at Tate Modern is on the sixth-floor of the gallery, serves delicious afternoon teas and offers exquisite views over St. Paul's Cathedral. Or secondly, there is Vertigo 42, a super swanky champagne bar with an unparalleled view of the city's skyline.

    An iconic view
    Until February 2013, the highest and most famous public viewing point in the city was the London Eye, which remains an enjoyable way to overlook attraction-packed Westminster. But now there's a structure down river which offers a whole city vista from almost twice the height. The View from The Shard is located on the 72nd floor of the EU's tallest building, and offers a city panorama like no other.
  • On April 11, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    Should visitors rent a car in London?

    Absolutely not. Public transport in London may not be especially cheap, but when you compare it to the combined rates for car rental, gas (now in excess of $2 per liter) and the Congestion Charge (which can cost up to $15.50 a day), it doesn't make any economical sense to drive the city. In fact, it doesn't make any sense however you look at it. Driving is one of the slowest ways to get around London – you'll often find yourself overtaken by bicycles, which can easier bypass the inevitable city traffic and take shortcuts through small streets and alleys – and it is without doubt one of the most infuriating, with strict speed limits and a series of one-way systems guaranteed you make you curse your decision. The British capital has an extensive and reliable public transport system, so why make life difficult for yourself?

    The only justifiable reason to rent a car in London is to take day trips away from it. Yet with all the major tourist towns and cities (such as Oxford, Bath and Brighton) accessible by train, and tour companies offering easy access to more remote sites (like Hampton Court Palace and Stonehenge) I would still recommend leaving your driving license at home.
  • On April 11, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    Should visitors rent a car in London?

    Absolutely not. Public transport in London may not be especially cheap, but when you compare it to the combined rates for car rental, gas (now in excess of $2 per liter) and the Congestion Charge (which can cost up to $15.50 a day), it doesn't make any any economical sense to drive the city. In fact, it doesn't make any sense however you look at it. Driving is one of the slowest ways to get around London – you'll often find yourself overtaken by bicycles, which can easier bypass the inevitable city traffic and take shortcuts through small streets and alleys – and it is without doubt one of the most infuriating, with strict speed limits and a series of one-way systems guaranteed you make you curse your decision. The British capital has an extensive and reliable public transport system, so why make life difficult for yourself?

    The only justifiable reason to rent a car in London is to take day trips away from it. Yet with all the major tourist towns and cities (such as Oxford, Bath and Brighton) accessible by train, and tour companies offering easy access to more remote sites (like Hampton Court Palace and Stonehenge) I would still recommend leaving your driving license at home.
  • On April 11, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the best way to haggle in London?

    Haggling is not common practice in London, or the UK at large, and trying to negotiate a discount at a fashion shop, restaurant, tourist attraction or taxi stand will usually result in a great deal of confusion and embarrassment.

    However, the big exceptions to this rule are markets. While some stalls will have a strict fixed price policy, others will be open to bulk discounts for purchasing multiple items, with a few even willing to negotiate the listed price on individual items (particularly those of indeterminate value, such as antiques). If you are unsure of their stance on haggling, and don't want to ask outright, the best approach is to mutter a few understated lamentations to yourself along the lines of “Oh dear, it's a little expensive” or “That's just above my budget.” You'll soon learn whether they are open to reduced offers.

    On a slightly less legal note, if you are purchasing listed-price items from an independent retailer – such as a jeweler or an antiques dealer – you may secure a discount by offering to pay in cash.
  • On April 10, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What language is spoken in London?

    As you would probably expect, the vast majority of Londoners speak English as a first language – even if it doesn't always sound like it – and if you stick to the mother tongue you will be understood pretty much everywhere you venture. However, as a long-established multicultural capital, London can also boast an extraordinary range of other world languages spoken within its borders – more than 300, in fact.

    It's hardly a surprise to discover Mandarin and Cantonese widely spoken throughout the city's Chinatown, and other long-established communities have led to non-English languages becoming a normal part of life; from Bangladeshi in Bethnal Green to Yiddish in Stamford Hill. But the fact is that people of different backgrounds, with different languages, live and work right across the city, so don't be surprised to hear restaurant staff, officials or simply people on the street speaking anything from Polish to Arabic to Urdu.
  • On April 10, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the tipping etiquette in London?

    Tipping is standard practice for many services in London.

    If you are eating in a restaurant, it is not uncommon for a 12.5 percent service charge to be automatically added to your bill - and even if it isn't then a tip of around 10 percent is probably expected. If you are staying in a hotel, you should probably keep two or three pound coins handy for tipping the porter, and factor around the same amount for each day the maid cleans your room. And when it comes to taxis, a good rule of thumb is to round the fare up to the nearest pound, then add a couple of extra on top.

    But in all these cases, it's important to remember that tips remain an optional extra for good service. If your food arrives cold, you room isn't tidied or your taxi driver gets lost, don't feel obliged to reward this.

    One place where you do not generally tip is in pubs or bars. You will usually have to go up to the bar to order drinks, so this obviously does not incur a service charge, but even if you also order food there is no great expectation to tip. However, if a waiter or waitress really goes out of their way, it may be worth considering.
  • On April 10, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best food gifts to buy in London?

    For most people, buying luxury food gifts in London means heading to Harrods or Fortnum & Mason to pick up a pre-packaged hamper. But if you want to take home something a little more original, simply follow these three steps.

    1. Start at the gourmet food shops
    London is home to a plethora of gourmet food shops – and many are at the heart of tourist hotspots. So when you're at the London Eye, visit Konditor & Cook in Waterloo for delicious vanilla fudge; while you're looking around Covent Garden, check out Neal's Yard Dairy for its fine British farm cheeses; and as you're on your way to St. Paul's, pop into the original Twinings tea shop on The Strand.

    2. Move on to the food markets
    Every weekend, London hosts a number of farmer and food markets – you'll find many listed here - and this is always a great way to pick up tasty traditional treats. From jams to jellies, cakes to candies, and pies to porridge, you'll find plenty of delicious gifts to take back home. And if you can't wait for the weekend, you can also try your luck at a midweek market in areas like Borough and Swiss Cottage.

    3. Finish in the supermarket
    Finally, fill out your collection with a trip to the supermarket. Here you can stock up on deservedly popular local foodstuffs such as English mustard, lemon curd, Marmite, smoked salmon, Hobnobs and English ale. In other words, the authentic foodstuffs designed not just for tourists, but for average Londoners.
  • On April 9, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What should I pack for a trip to London?

    The most important thing to remember when packing for London is that the weather is very changeable. Visit in spring or autumn and you can easily experience warming sun, biting wind and freezing rain in one single afternoon. So make sure you pack for all eventualities – bring thick socks, a warm jacket and a good umbrella, but also remember your sunscreen, hat and sunglasses. And bring some optimism with you, too.

    Other essentials for an enjoyable London stay include sturdy shoes to walk around the city during the day, along with some smarter clothes for the evening (especially if you're planning to visit a nightclub or take in a West End show). Other items you shouldn't forget include a plug adapter, a large amount of currency - it's a very expensive city - and even a dictionary of local terminology. It can be quite a shock how much can be lost in translation between American and British English.

    Once you're in the country, you should pick up a central London street map (with an Underground map on the reverse) to help you navigate the winding streets, plus an Oyster Card for when you're sick of walking.
  • On April 9, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What is the best time to visit London?

    Hyde Park in Fall, Pawel Libera It's always a good time to visit London.

    Spring offers beautifully blooming Royal Parks and countless charity events, summer boasts world-renowned cultural and music festivals, fall serves up top sporting events and the rather bizarre Guy Fawkes Night, and winter means iconic ice rinks and Germanic Christmas markets. In fact, London's cultural calendar is so jam-packed that whatever your passion – be it music, art, food, fashion or nature – you're guaranteed to find suitable attractions any time of year.

    In addition to this, the vast majority of the big tourist highlights open year round, regardless of weather.

    Having said that, my personal pick of the best time to visit would be early fall. While it has the obvious charm of being less likely (though not necessarily unlikely) to rain throughout your trip, this is also when the cultural scene is at its liveliest, with restaurants changing their menus, museums and galleries launching exhibitions, and bars and clubs welcoming back the locals - as the coachloads of tourists will have already left.
  • On March 29, 2013
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  • On March 11, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best things about winter in London?

    Winter is a truly magical time in London. Here are our three favorite things about the cold season in the British capital.

    Winter ice rinks
    London is home to a wealth of winter ice rinks during December and January. The most renowned is probably Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland – a beautiful ice rink built around a Victorian bandstand and lit by 100,000 tiny lights – but other great London rinks can be found outside the Natural History Museum, in the large courtyard of Somerset House, and in the frozen moat of the Tower of London.

    You can also head just outside the city to enjoy a stunning rink in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace.

    Christmas markets
    There are dozens of wonderful Christmas markets across London during December. Some of the best include the traditional German-style wooden huts outside the Southbank Centre, the seasonal arts, crafts and fashion shopping at the Camden Lock Night Market, and the spectacular Christmas Food Market at Covent Garden.

    London Fashion Week
    London is one of the world's great capitals of mode, so for fashionistas there's no better time to visit than during London Fashion Week. Taking place in February each year (and again in September), it is a great place to get a first glimpse of the spring/summer line by the world's best designers. For non-traders, it's also immediately followed by London Fashion Weekend, which is open to the public.
  • On March 11, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best things about winter in London?

    Winter is a magical time in London. Here our three favorite things about the cold season in the British capital.

    Winter ice rinks
    London is home to a wealth of winter ice rinks during December and January. The most renowned is probably Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland – a beautiful ice rink built around a Victorian bandstand and lit by 100,000 tiny lights – but other great London rinks can be found outside the Natural History Museum, in the large courtyard of Somerset House, and in the frozen moat of the Tower of London.

    You can also head just outside the city to enjoy a stunning rink in the grounds of Hampton Court Palace.

    Christmas markets
    There are dozens of wonderful Christmas markets across London during December. Some of the best include the traditional German-style wooden huts outside the Southbank Centre, the seasonal arts, crafts and fashion shopping at the Camden Lock Night Market, and the spectacular Christmas Food Market at Covent Garden.

    London Fashion Week
    London is one of the world's great capitals of mode, so for fashionistas there's no better time to visit than during London Fashion Week. Taking place in February each year (and again in September), it is a great place to get a first glimpse of the spring/summer line by the world's best designers. For non-traders, it's also immediately followed by London Fashion Weekend, which is open to the public.
  • On March 11, 2013
    Joseph Reaney answered the question: Joseph Reaney

    What are the best things about spring in London?

    Kew Gardens in Spring, Pawel Libera Spring is a wonderful time to be in the British capital. Here are just three reasons why.

    Enjoy nature
    London is littered with green spaces, from Royal Parks to urban farms, so there’s no better time of year to see the city’s nature come to life. While the world-famous Chelsea Flower Show takes place in May, perhaps the best natural attraction in springtime is Kew Gardens. Created in 1759, it’s home to the world’s largest collection of living plants, and in spring you can enjoy nature trails that take in its vast collection of open-air crocuses, daffodils and bluebells. If the springtime weather is as unpredictable as usual, you can take shelter in one of the attraction's gargantuan – and often sweltering -– glasshouses.

    Take in a show
    Providing it isn't Easter Weekend, spring is one of the best times in London to catch a show. Not only is there less of a crush for tickets than in the summer, but this also means you'll find a cheaper deal for dinner and a show – with maybe even a hotel thrown in! Add to that the fact that many West End shows premiere in the spring, allowing you to be an early adopter of a new hit, and there's no better time to go.

    Do some good
    London is a charitable city, and no more so than in spring. Not only can you take part in the London Marathon in April – the world's biggest race, and the single largest fundraising event on earth – but there is also the nationwide Swimathon Weekend soon after, then the Pink Ribbon Walk (in aid of breast cancer) in Marble Hill Park in June. And if you prefer to spectate rather than participate, you can also turn on your British TV in March to enjoy Comic Relief – the world's most profitable telethon.